On 22 March 2023, we held our 173rd AGM at Trinity Park, Ipswich where we welcomed a combined total of 385 members and guests in person and online. It was great to see so many members and their guests turning out to support the Society this year, and for many to watch the live stream online.
Our first full year as Suffolk Building Society has seen us win awards, invest in new technologies to help members and embark on a sweeping strategy of environmental and social purpose, all managed with robust governance.
The successes of the past year can best be summed up by winning the award for ‘Best Building Society’, in May 2022. This was further exemplified in the business growth. Our savings balances increased by £34m and our mortgage book grew by 7%.
We also refreshed our 170-year-old mission for the challenges of the 21st Century. Our Saving Suffolk campaign has been launched with a project supporting Suffolk Wildlife Trust with a new nature reserve – Martlesham Wilds. Our Safe Homes for Suffolk campaign has seen us team up with, and support, Emmaus Suffolk, Ipswich Housing Action Group and Lighthouse Women’s Aid.
After the formal Annual General Meeting business was concluded, and the votes counted and verified, we welcomed our guest speaker Dr Amir Khan to the stage. Dr Amir Khan is a devoted full-time GP and best-selling author working in inner-city Bradford. He is also President of the RSPB and a Vice President for The Wildlife Trusts, as well as an ambassador for The Butterfly Conservation Society.
Dr Amir Khan entertained us by talking about the importance of being at one with nature and the impact it has on our wellbeing. To begin his talk, Dr Khan engaged the audience by sharing comical behind-the-scenes stories whilst filming for Channel 5’s GPs Behind Closed Doors.
Following on from this, he went on to discuss how technology has advanced and that it has disconnected us from nature. Dr Khan expressed how vital it is for us all to spend time in green spaces, but in particular encouraging children at a young age, especially with the rise of the virtual world.
He spoke about numerous studies within the evening, one of which has proven that there are clear benefits of spending just two hours per week outside. Although it can sound prescriptive, Dr Khan stated that any time spent outside is beneficial to us all. Dr Khan also outlined the importance of good quality sleep and how exposure to natural light outside during the day can help enormously to this.
Dr Khan also gave us an insight to his childhood and that living in inner cities, he didn’t grow up around nature. When he was younger, his time with nature was watching nature programmes on TV!
To end the evening, our audience was given the opportunity to have a Q&A session with Dr Khan. Dr Khan answered questions around topics such as ‘green prescribing’, promoting biodiversity net gain, and about how we can get the message out to young people to outline the benefits of nature.
We’d like to thank all of our members who came along and supported their Society, as well as those who watched online. We hope you enjoyed the evening with us and hope to see you again next year!